U.N. to deploy Ebola mission as death toll reaches 2,630

Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:06pm GMT

By Elizabeth Pineau and Saliou Samb

PARIS/CONAKRY (Reuters) - The United Nations unveiled plans on Thursday for a special mission to combat the worst Ebola epidemic on record in West Africa, as the death toll hit 2,630 and France became the latest Western nation to step up its support.

French President Francois Hollande announced the deployment of a military hospital to remote Forest Region of southeastern Guinea, where the outbreak was first detected in March.

Since then the virus has infected at least 5,357 people, according to World Health Organization (WHO), mostly in Guinea, neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has also spread to Senegal and Nigeria.

With fragile West African healthcare systems overrun by the outbreak, Hollande said France's response would not be limited to contributing to 150 million euros (118.4 million pounds) in aid promised by European Union nations.

"We must save lives," he told a news conference. "I have asked the defence minister to coordinate this action and to include military doctors and the civil protection agency plus air support."

U.S. President Barack Obama, calling the disease a threat to global security, promised this week the deployment of 3,000 U.S. troops to help contain the epidemic. Britain also announced on Wednesday it would help to provide a further 700 treatment beds in Sierra Leone, its former colony.

One of the most deadly diseases, there is no known cure for the hemorrhagic fever, though development of several treatments and vaccines is being fast-tracked.

In New York, the 15-member U.N. Security Council was due to adopt a resolution later on Thursday that declares the outbreak of Ebola, spread by contact with the body fluids of infected people, a "threat to international peace and security".   Continued...

A health worker brings a woman suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus to an ambulance in Monrovia, Liberia, September 15, 2014.  REUTERS/James Giahyue
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